The training is finished; the job-offer is signed; the truck driver career has commenced; and now there’s so much to remember as you turn the ignition and drive out into your future. Stepping foot into the trucking industry can be daunting. What advice do you heed and what do you disregard? There is a lot of misinformation circulating. To make sense of the mess, we have assembled a “rookie driver survival guide” to put you in gear for a great future.
Standards that apply to veteran drivers are not the same for rookies, Brett Aquila from truckingtruth.com says. Amateurs are not expected to amass the same amount of miles as a veteran. The mind and body must first become acclimated to the demands of driving and the time management skills must be developed. So, here are a few things to recall to help refine your abilities.
Parking is an issue. The lots fill up quickly and its not uncommon to waste time hunting for a nook among miles of other trailers, Aquila states. Even arriving an hour later in the evening can make or break the chance of seizing a spot. Its exhausting, aggravating, inefficient and wasteful. “It didn’t take long for me to realize that if I can manage to get parked early (6 p.m.), and get up really early (2 a.m.), I’ll save a lot of time, energy and frustration.”
Traffic is a stress stimulator. While it’s impossible to completely avoid, it can be alleviated. Foolproof your schedule, Aquila instructs, by being astute with your time. Maintaining unorthodox hours (like 2 a.m.- 6 p.m.) can be the key. Not only will you be able to find better parking, but you can bypass traffic, arrive at appointments early and get loaded/unloaded ahead of schedule. If you can nail that timing you’ll generate better customer service, garner respect for your dispatcher and make more money quicker, Aquila exclaims.
Rest the mind and rest the body. “There is something critically important to know - the more exhausted you let yourself get, the less efficient your recovery time will be,” Aquila states. Listen to your body and sleep when you need it or else risk losing hours of energy and falling behind. “There’s a huge safety factor here too,” he claims. “You’re incredibly dangerous when you’re driving tired. Someone who has been up 24 straight hours has the same driving skills as someone who is legally drunk - it’s been proven through scientific testing.”
Drive Diligently. You have 60 feet of trailer behind you. Don’t narrow your safety margins by trying to slip into a tight spot in the lane next to you. Pass safely and properly, states an article from loadfti.com. And speaking of 60 feet, don’t get too frustrated when learning the art of backing up. It’s a technique the requires special maneuvering and calculating. Just remember to get out and look beforehand. Safety in the lot and on the highway should always be a priority.
Be cordial with your dispatcher. Launching a career by creating respected, professional relationships will render a respected image as a person and a driver, an article from gorillasafety.com says, and it will ultimately lead to further opportunities and success.
Lastly, be patient with yourself. Time management and tenacity behind the wheel are earned mile by mile. It takes perseverance and a willingness to learn along the way to evolve from a rookie to a veteran.